The Artist's Perspective: Wonderwall

Everyone has heard Oasis's Wonderwall. It seems to be played almost every time a high school or college band aims for a slow song. It's almost always acoustic, and almost always overplayed. Some remote tribes deep in the jungle probably interrupt their ceremonial song and dance to sit around a campfire and hear one of their buddies try an acoustic version of the tune.

But have you ever wondered what the band thinks of all the covers?
SPIN Magazine did an interview in 2008 with Oasis's Noel Gallagher. While Noel, who wrote the lyrics of Wonderwall, did not comment on the covers as a whole, he did mention one cover specifically in a very positive light:

...We've never got it right. It's too slow or too fast. I think Ryan Adams is the only person who ever got that song right. I'd love to do the Ryan Adams version, but in front of 60,000 Oasis fans that wouldn't be possible.

So what is this song about? 
Many assume Wonderwall was written about a girl, and media had stated that the song was about Noel Gallagher's (now ex) wife. However, 7 years after its release and after he was no longer with his wife, Noel admitted that the song had a different meaning:

"The meaning of that song was taken away from me by the media who jumped on it," said Gallagher. "And how do you tell your Mrs it's not about her once she's read it is? It's a song about an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself."
However, part of the beauty of music is the way an individual interprets the work. This is also why covers can be so interesting and distinct from the original. And perhaps this is why the Ryan Adams version has gained so much popularity.

The Ryan Adams Version

The poppy, high school evocative Oasis version takes on a much more mature tone in this rendition of Wonderwall. Ryan Adams seems to just feel the song more. He has more emotion and passion in his voice when he sings it, which maybe just makes the song feel more real. The reverb on the vocals but relative lack there of on the guitar also adds an interesting, and perhaps more personal touch. Perhaps if Oasis's frontman was more passionate about the song it would have a comparable emotive vibe, but unfortunately:
"I can't f***ing stand that f***ing song! Everytime I have to sing it I want to gag. Problem is, it was a big, big tune for us."
-Liam Gallagher, Oasis frontman


  1. Chris- Before reading your blog, I had never really considered an artist's reaction to his or her songs being covered. We've all heard several different versions of Wonderwall, and it is nice to see that in this case the artist is viewing covers as a positive thing, even giving credit to other artists that he felt did his song justice. I've always enjoyed seeing great songs interpreted in different ways; it seems like the highest form of flattery for the writer! I've really enjoyed your blog and I look forward to reading more!

  2. This is a great post. I would expect Liam Gallagher to say something like that about a song his brother wrote. You're certainly right, that Ryan Adams did a much better job "feeling" the meaning of the song than Liam Gallagher. To me it will always sound a little "wrong" because I grew up with the Oasis version and sloppiness is a little bit their style, but without the Oasis nonchalance the song is definitely also worth listening too, just maybe in a different mood.

  3. Let me preface this by saying -- I like the Ryan Adams version so much more than the original. Maybe "stripped-down" is too easy an adjective to attach to Adams' version, but I think it's an accurate description, and a necessary dynamic for Ryan Adams to seek in order to carve out the emotional undertone of the original. That's not to say the original is worse (though I personally dislike it more), but that Adam's version seems distilled of some of the catchy production values that let the original become the hit it is, and that distillation left more feeling.

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  5. the importance of being idle was stolen out of La's Clean Prophet, and
    Waiting for the rapture was stolen straight from the Doors' 5 to 1.

    I seriously doubt the Gallager's ever composed any song of their own.